Can you apply for a “right to rent”?

The Immigration Act 2014 brought in the concept of the “right to rent”: broadly speaking, landlords can be fined if they rent to a person who is not a British citizen or EEA national, and does not have leave to remain in the UK.

The Immigration Act 2016 goes further and makes it a criminal offence for landlords to let to a person whose right to rent has expired or where they knew or should have known that a person did not have a right to rent.

Particularly with the new criminal offence grabbing landlords’ attention, people with irregular immigration status are starting to find that they cannot move house, or are at risk of eviction.

If you were an overstayer but have applied to stay in the UK because you now have a family here, you might be waiting for a decision from the Home Office, or for an appeal hearing before the Tribunal. In most cases the Home Office won’t remove you while your case is being considered or your appeal is running, but they can make life almost impossible for you while you are here.

You can ask the Home Office to grant you a right to rent while your case is being decided. The guidance for doing this is quite sketchy, and there is no guarantee an application will succeed. You need to use your existing Home Office contact (this could be the office that decided your application , or the office where you sign on) and explain why you need to prove you have a right to rent.

The Home Office says they will “normally” grant a right to rent in the following circumstances:

  • If you have an outstanding asylum or Article 3 claim or appeal
  • If you have an appeal outstanding which “cannot be pursued from abroad”
  • If your Judicial Review has been given permission to proceed and Home Office policy means that you won’t be removed while it is being considered
  • If you are on immigration bail that includes a residence or tagging restriction
  • Victims of modern slavery
  • Families with children under 18 who are part of the Family Returns Process
  • If you are participating in the voluntary returns scheme

You can also make representations about your human rights, and vulnerable people in your family.

It’s not clear how human rights applicants fit into all this: if you do have an application pending you don’t fall under any of the listed criteria, but you might succeed on human rights grounds. Equally, once you have started a Tribunal appeal in the UK, it can’t normally be “pursued from abroad”: the Tribunal would treat it as having been withdrawn.

If you need help in applying for a right to rent, please contact me.


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